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For Your Marriage

Dennis and Mary Jo Weiss have been married for more than 30 years. They write about a shared love of nature, prayer, and their children and grandchildren from their home in Hamburg, New York.

Stewardship in Marriage

As we approach our wedding anniversary in a few weeks, I have been reflecting lately on a guiding principle of our marriage that has been of great assistance to us in the almost 36 years we have been married. It is best summed up as the concept of “stewardship.”

Stewardship to us is viewing everything as coming from the hand of God. Everything that is a part of our lives – our faith, our marriage, our family, our relationships, our possessions — are gifts given to us with a responsibility attached to treat them as such. Dennis and I both live with an awareness of the tremendous sacrifices made by our parents and immigrant grandparents, and those sacrifices have taught us the value of hard work and the responsibility of properly caring for that which we have.

There is both a physical and spiritual dimension to the concept of stewardship. Our belongings are part of the physical dimension. If we gave someone a present, and found it later mistreated or broken, we would probably question the gratitude of the recipient. Dennis and I try to view our physical possessions as gifts that need to be taken care of, and shared with others as they need. That cultivates in us a grateful heart.

Part of our “chores” consists of caring for the things we own. When we had children at home, we used to devote Saturday mornings to getting the house back in order. They knew that in order to play with friends in the afternoon, the morning would be spent cleaning their rooms, and doing a weekly chore that benefited the whole household. This taught them the responsibility of being part of a family, and of caring for their belongings. I used to say that if someone stopped by our house on a Friday, who knows what they would find, but if they stopped on Saturday afternoon it would be a whole different story.

A question worth revisiting at times is, “Do we have so many belongings that we cannot be good stewards of them?” The answer to that will tell us what we need to do to restore our household to a more manageable level.

The second dimension of stewardship is the spiritual/relational dimension. With the view of all things as gifts, these are a couple questions that may help to see if we are being good stewards in this area:
“Have I shown God gratitude for the gift of my faith?”
“Have I treated the relationships He has seen fit to give me with the care and concern He shows for me?”

If the answer to either of these is “no”, then it tells me that it is time for me to make some changes. If I am too busy for God, or too busy for the relationships that matter, then I am too busy.

Living with the mindset that all is a gift from God makes us view our marriage as a true blessing that needs to be appreciated and cultivated, and from which many other healthy relationships will spring. The concept of stewardship will continue to be an open ended discernment for Dennis and me, as we ask ourselves often how well we are taking care of all that we have been given.